What To Do When You Feel Ineffective

No matter how well things are going, there will come a time when we feel stuck again. This is just part of life. 

What we do when this happens is what makes all the difference in the quality of our lives. Do we grow more and more resentful and disconnected over the years? Do our practices fail us? Or do we learn to cultivate a center, a presence, a home in ourselves that is unbreakable by the ups and downs of life? 

I spoke with a friend today. She is working through some major challenges. She has done a lot of amazing work, and now she is focusing bigger projects than she ever has before. Things aren't going as expected. People aren't following through. Agreements are being broken. Her decades of meditation experience seem to all be getting put to the test and failing. Nothing seems to work. She feels ineffective and stuck. 

Healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: grief, relief, misery, joy.  

Healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: grief, relief, misery, joy.  

When she said the word ineffective, I knew it was her masculine talking. Though she identifies as a woman, we all have these qualities of masculine and feminine in us. The masculine is concerned with results and productivity. The feminine with receptivity and intuition. In yoga (union) we are bringing them together. In life, finding that union can be a bit more challenging. This is what makes yoga and meditation so powerful, when we heal these parts and find union in ourselves, the outer world begins to reflect that.

When we don't acknowledge these parts of ourselves we stay stuck, resentful, hostile until something breaks. When we are stuck in these states we replay situations, causing further harm to ourselves and creating further separation from others. What's beers so surprising in my work like this with others is how we are often only a few questions away from unraveling these patterns. 

She and I talked more and discussed her situation. She has truly been doing her best. I can feel that. I can feel how painfully it is to have tried seemingly everything and still feel stuck. So we began this meditation practice I'll guide you through. You can follow along and use this any time you are working with similar challenges of feeling stuck, ineffective, or in any way out of balance in yourself. Masculine or feminine. The intention of this practice is come back to congruence in your mind, voicing these parts of yourself, giving space to feel them, just like you give space to feel all the sensations that arise in a yoga posture. As meditation teacher Pema Chodron says, that space is where healing occurs.

inner Dialogue Meditation

(Estimated time: 20 minutes) 

* Pen and paper or computer to journal
 * Two places to sit (chairs or meditation cushions) 
 * Optional: Ask a friend or coach to sit with you and witness your process, adding minimal feedback as you go and asking questions to help draw you out. 

This is a unique practice in that you will be talking to yourself. In step 1 and 3 you will focus on the witnessing awareness often used in meditation practices. In step 2 you'll let all the feelings, whatever they may be, speak. Similar to what happens in a dance, I invite you to lose yourself to the dialogue, not filtering or trying to say the right thing. Say whatever comes up. You'll get to digest it in step 3.


1. Feel your feelings

Set a timer for 15 minutes to be focused on this practice
Come into a still, seated posture
Open the practice space either by chanting "Aum," taking a deep breath, or setting an intention.
 Notice sensations in your body
 When you think of being ineffective, what do you feel?
Are there any words or images coming up with the feelings? Write them down

2. Have a dialogue

Choose one seat as the seat of your feminine and the other as the seat of your masculine
Sit in the masculine seat, feel all the stuck feelings, and start a dialogue with your feminine side
When you feel complete switch to the feminine seat
Feel all the feelings of your feminine side: movement, receptivity, intuition, and respond
Continue like this until the timer runs up

3. Digest your experience

Set a timer for 5 minutes to write about your experience. If you have a witness, do this as a dialogue with them. Here are some questions to consider: 
What did you notice?
What is the relationship of your masculine to your feminine?
Which part of you is more dominant?
What is one way your masculine and feminine can work together
Stop writing once the timer sounds
Close the practice space either by chanting "Aum," taking a deep breath, or remembering your intention.


Doing this practice brought my friend to the feelings driving her anger and frustration. She voiced the pain and hurt and was able to cry. Doing the dialogue gave space to feel understood and be kind to herself. Regardless of what happens next externally, the situation has shifted for her internally, and that's where she has the most influence.